24 dead in Kolkata fire; CM visits site

24 dead in Kolkata fire; CM visits site

Firefighters spray water to douse fire at a building in Calcutta on Tuesday.APFirefighters who began search operations last night from the top floor of the Stephen Court, housing restaurants, offices and residences, said the bodies were mainly recovered from the fifth and sixth floors of the seven-storeyed building.

Stating that the fire was completely under control although smoke was billowing out from one or two pockets, police said 20 of the injured were admitted to various hospitals.

So far six of the dead have been identified. Missing reports had been filed for 29 others, they said.The sources said the search operations were continuing this morning but it was unlikely that there were any bodies trapped in the building.

A team of forensic experts will visit the spot to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Preliminary investigations indicated that the fire may have broken out due to a short circuit in a lift between the fifth and sixth floors.

Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya had said the burnt portion of the building would be pulled down. Anxious relatives thronged various city hospitals and were seen waiting in front of the morgue of the SSKM hospital to identify the bodies last night.

Chief Minister visits Stephen Court
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today visited the Stephen Court building on Park Street where a major fire claimed 24 lives.After briefly reviewing the situation with city Police Commissioner Goutam Mohan Chakraborty and Director General of Fire Services, Gopal Bhattacharya, the Chief Minister entered the building and stayed there for about five minutes.

Chakraborty later told reporters that the Chief Minister had instructed the police and the fire brigade to quickly rescue anyone still trapped inside and asked the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to pull down the damaged portion of the the 150-year-old heritage building housing restaurants, offices and residences.

The Police Commissioner said there was hardly any chance of anyone remaining alive in the affected portion of the building and the fire brigade was still looking for bodies

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